A Derbyshire mother has explained how her life changed completely with the birth of her son Adam, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As a result of Adam’s condition, Kerry Salt, 49, from Chesterfield, ended up leaving her job in order to commit more time to her children.
Kerry, who used to work as a bank manager with Virgin Money, explained how her son Adam, 14, suffers from a number of different conditions as a result of being starved of oxygen at birth. With Adam needing round the clock care, it has undeniably had a huge impact on her family’s life.
Kerry explained: “He’s 14 years old, he was born 8 weeks prematurely and was starved of oxygen at birth which has left him very severely brain-damaged. He’s got no use of any of the limbs, or any of the muscles in his body to be fair, he can’t even swallow properly, so he has to have suction and is fed by a tube directly into his stomach.
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“He’s a permanent wheelchair user, and it’s quadriplegic cerebral palsy that he’s got, it comes with added complications that develop over time so he starts to get the curvature of the spine, epilepsy, he’s got very limited vision and he’s also now got dislocated hips which are having an impact on his feet, which are at right-angles to his legs.
“It makes it very difficult for sitting, difficult for eating, and also laying because he can only lay him on his back. It’s been a massive learning curve for me, and that the brain controls so many things that we just take for granted and if it’s wired incorrectly, it controls things the wrong way and that’s basically what it’s done in Adam.”
Adam is also unable to swallow as the muscle that stops us from swallowing into our lungs is unable to work, making it easier for him to swallow the wrong way.
As a result of repeatedly swallowing into his lungs when he was younger, Adam also suffers from chronic lung disease. He was also frequently dehydrated due to stomach issues, meaning he had to be placed on a drip to hydrate him.
Mother-of-two Kerry said she now knows the best ways to keep her son as safe and healthy as possible, despite all the complications.
She added: “It’s just the simple things that we don’t even realise we’re doing. It’s hard work looking after him, but it’s also very rewarding because he’s your family at the end of the day and you love them no matter what.
“It’s not what I anticipated with my first child, when you’re pregnant you don’t expect it, but because we’ve never known him any other way, you love them for how they are. I used to see other people in wheelchairs and wondered how people cope with that, but you just do because it’s your life and you just deal with the cards you’re dealt with at the time.”
But, caring for Adam has had a big impact on Kerry’s life, and the lives of their family. Along with younger sister Isla, 10, Kerry and her husband, Karl, have had to coordinate their lives and work to ensure both of their children are able to live their lives to the fullest.
Kerry explained how she eventually had to take the decision to leave her job in order to provide for her children.
“I used to work full-time, I was a business manager at Virgin Money, after Adam came along they were brilliant and let me reduce my hours to three days a week. Four years after Adam his younger sister Isla came along and I found it too difficult to work.
“Like anywhere, you always do more than your contracted hours, and to fit in my volume of work I was having to do a lot of additional hours, and the two days I wasn’t working I was taking Adam to the hospital, so everything else was falling behind.
“Trying to run a home when you’ve got a child that needs 24/7 care, and you’ve got to work and you’ve got a newborn baby, something had to give, so in the end I had to give work up which was difficult because I liked my job. As daft as it sounds, it was something for me, I wasn’t just an extension of Adam, I was my own person at work and it was something different to focus on.”
Now, Kerry is preparing to complete a marathon in Manchester to raise money for a charity that has supported her family through Adam’s care. Newlife, the Charity for Disabled Children, provided a specialist seat for Adam that allows him to move around and sit independently, giving Kerry and her family more freedom as well.
She added: “It opened up so many new things for him and makes it all very inclusive. They funded it all, they funded the wheel base and the moulded seat, and it just allows him to be involved in all things.
“Newlife is a fantastic charity and I don’t think enough people know about it. There are other families in similar situations to ours that don’t know they can obtain equipment for their child, and they might be struggling.”
Kerry will be taking part in the marathon on April 3, and you can access her fundraiser here.